The Great American Desert


This morning the wind is howling in Wakeeney (just west of Hays), Kansas. Fortunately it’s warm at 50 degrees. Looking out of the window I see almost unbroken brown grass to the horizon. It caused me to think of “The Great American Desert.” I am in the middle of it now.

An inspiring view of the Great...

An excerpt from Stephen H. Long’s contribution to “An Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, Performed in the Years 1819, 1820” by Edwin James (1823).

“In regard to this extensive section of country, I do not hesitate in giving the opinion, that it is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and of course uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence . . . the scarcity of wood and water, almost uniformly prevalent, will prove an insuperable obstacle in the way of settling the country. . .

. . .This region, however, viewed as a frontier, may prove of infinite importance to the United States, inasmuch as it is calculated to serve as a barrier to prevent too great an extension of our population westward.”

Stephen Long’s map can be found here:

Stephen H. Long’s 1822 Geographical, Statistical and Historical Map of Arkansas Territory.

– Anthony, Wakeeney, Kansas


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